Form: 97 BB
Date:  Friday, January 19, 2001 4:01:26 PM 
From: Brad Sparks
Subject: Analysis Proves T-33 Was Not Chasing A Balloon
Cat: 11
Distribution: CE, SHG, NCP

Thanks for updating us on this pivotal case from Sept. 10-11, 1951.  Your brief mention doesn't do justice to the tremendous wealth of data on this case on your website -- military records, newspaper reports, unpublished Ruppelt notes, the revised Hall-Connors chapter on the case, as well as the scientific analysis by McDonald.  The transcriptions of barely readable or unreadable military reports and news articles are a great asset to study of this case and represents a lot of work by whomever did it -- they should get our collective thanks for this effort. 

And as you say in your commentary at the website, this case seemed to usher in major changes in the UFO project at ATIC -- the reorganized Project Grudge on Oct 22, 1951, and the brand new project name Blue Book on March 14, 1952. 

Your webpage on this case now includes the following sections: 

My brief comments on the case [by Francis Ridge] 

The Fort Monmouth Story - Too Many Coincidences - Captain Edward J. Ruppelt 
The Ruppelt Notes - c/o Robert Swiatek, FUFOR 

The Fort Monmouth Case: A New Look - Wendy Connors & Michael Hall 
Official Fort Monmouth Documents 

Evaluation of the Fort Monmouth Incident - James E McDonald 
The T-33 Jet Trainer 

I have a few comments to add on each section: 

    My brief comments on the case [by Francis Ridge] 

I think you're right that we probably wouldn't have known about the Ft. Monmouth radar trackings for a long time if not for Ruppelt (though the T-33 sighting was known from the press).  It would have only come out in 1968 with NICAP's publication of the declassified Grudge/Blue Book Status Reports.  Was the Ft, Monmouth case among the 41 or so cases declassified for Keyhoe in Jan 1953? 

I'm sure the page is not missing from the Cummings-Rosengarten wire recording transcript of their investigation, it must not have been copied or the copies got stuck.  If copies were made on the sticky chemical paper used by a lot of microfilm readers it's easy for pages to stick together.  When I carefully reviewed this case on borrowed BB microfilm years ago I noticed no pages 
actually missing (only a skipped page number but I know you're talking about a different page).  I was very careful in reading it through because of the importance of this case in official UFO history.  I do think the page had a list of the names of the Ft. Monmouth radar instructors and students involved in the case. 

Also, what do you see as indications of a clamp-down on release of UFO information after this case?  It seems to me that Ruppelt did the reverse, attempted to get publicity for cases in order to try to obtain multiple sightings of the same object for triangulation.  Apparently B/Gen William 
Garland approved the plan or idea and encouraged the ensuing LIFE magazine article of April 7, 1952, which had been under way for some time (Bob Ginna had visited ATIC on June 28, 1951, etc.). 

The Fort Monmouth Story - Too Many Coincidences - Captain Edward J. Ruppelt 

The recounting of the case stops just when the high-level USAF activity is described.  Maybe this part should be included for comparison. 

Also, you might want to consider including helpful correction notes in brackets [] as Mike Hall does with the Ruppelt-Cummings interview notes of Jan 14, 1955.  One correction that stands out from the first paragraph is that as Mike notes in his chapter on the case the actual message that kicked off the Cummings-Rosengarten investigation came in on Sept 28 rather than Sept 12, and there wasn't an exact time like "3:04 PM" but at 1400 hours (2 PM) if I recall right.  Rather than a teletype (TWX) it was a Telecon Transcript, numbered TT-246.  ATIC had secretaries listen in and transcribe classified or important official telephone calls.  And apparently it was not 
stamped Operational Immediate -- that was the message priority for Lt Col Rosengarten's urgent message to AFOSI on Sept 30 to find out why the story had leaked to the press. 

    The Ruppelt Notes - c/o Robert Swiatek, FUFOR 

You might want to consider using Mike Hall's annotated version from his chapter which are an excellent help in correcting or better understanding this material. 

    The Fort Monmouth Case: A New Look - Wendy Connors & Michael Hall 

This book chapter has been thoroughly revised and expanded and provides an excellent overview of the sightings and their impact on the Air Force.  Mike Hall's annotations and corrections in brackets [] for the various source documents such as Ruppelt's notes are extremely helpful to the reader in making sense of the situation and in understanding the difficulties of 
getting at accurate history.  For example, Mike points out that in Ruppelt's book recounting the Oct 2, 1951, climactic meeting with Gen Cabell and his staff, there is mention of a General's report of his personal sighting from Saudi Arabia but the actual case involving a Gen E. M. Day occurred in 1952. 

A few scattered minor points:  There seems some uncertainty as to the time when the Ft. Monmouth radar UFO tracking occurred -- various times such as 11:10, 11:15 and 11:18 AM are given or suggested.  Probably the best course is to say about 11:15 as it's a rounder number.  Also, the only Operational Immediate priority message was apparently Rosengarten's on Sept 30 to AFOSI to investigate the press leak, and it was done on authority of Gen Cabell 
probably through his immediate staff.  The Telecon Transcript on Sept 28 wasn't stamped Operational Immediate.

It must be stressed that the alleged balloon explanation involves TWO balloons launched simultaneously from the same loaction at 11:12 AM EDT and the T-33 crew saw only ONE UFO.  Also, the balloons were rising at about 1300 ft/min so by the time of the sighting at 11:35 AM they would have been at about 27,000 feet -- much higher than the T-33 at 20,000 feet.  The pilots saw the UFO clearly "silhouetted" against the ground which means the UFO was 
certainly lower than 20,000 feet and could not have been the balloons. McDonald brings up the fact that such balloons would have been about 0.6 arcminute -- too small to even see with the naked eye.  Yet the T-33 pilots saw plenty of detail (see below for more discussion). 

Lt Col (not Lt.) Milton D. Willis, Chief of the AFOIN Technical Capabilities Branch (Evaluation Div), was Gen Cabell's UFO investigator whom he called in to do field investigations to make up for the lack of serious investigation by AMC/ATIC under Watson in 1950-1.  Also it should be noted that Gen Samford replaced Gen Cabell on Oct 31/Nov 1, 1951, or not too long after the tumultuous Oct 2 meeting, so this must have had an effect on UFO policy.  It is possible that if Gen Cabell had continued on as D/I of the Air Force there would have been a sweeping change top-to-bottom in the handling of the UFO matter (Project Grudge was reorganized only on Oct 22 so there was hardly time for Cabell to see any changes before he was gone).  Instead, it may be that such a change got started but was not followed through completely because Gen Cabell left AFOIN.  Cabell became Director of the Joint Staff of the JCS. 

    Official Fort Monmouth Documents 

This is a great collection of documents.  I wonder if more will be added because I notice the Telecon Transcript of Sept 28, 1951, that triggered the frantic ATIC investigation is not here.  Also the Grudge Special Status Report on the case would be nice to have here. 

    Evaluation of the Fort Monmouth Incident - James E McDonald 

McDonald points out that the radiosonde balloon(s) launched at 11:12 AM would have been carried to the north by the upper winds he checked in the meteorological records and the T-33 would never have seen any maneuvers from them.  He apparently didn't realize that there were data in the files on the actual ascent rate of the balloons, indicating about 1300 ft/min rather than 
800-900 ft/min.  Had he seen that he would surely have pointed out that the balloons would have been too high to be seen against the ground by the T-33 pilots.  And lastly, McDonald calculated the angular size of such balloons at the 15-mile distance from the T-33 that he estimated and it was about 0.6 arcminute -- which is below the size that the human eye can even resolve 
(about 0.7 arcmin) let alone perceive details of shape and color.  If the T-33 pilots' size and distance estimates are roughly accurately proportioned and in the ballpark, about 30-35 feet at 8,000 feet distance, this indicates an angular size of about 15 arcminutes or about 1/2 full moon -- more than enough to see the detail they reported. 

The speed estimates given, 900+ mph, are hard to accurately determine because the actual distance to the UFO is not known.  If the object was only say 2 miles from the T-33 the speed to do a 360 circle in 2 minutes would be only about 360 mph (but if it was done in 1 minute then 720 mph, or 45 seconds perhaps 1000 mph;  but if it was less than a 360-deg turn then all these speeds are less as well).  But the UFO seemed to descend -- which ascending balloons can't do -- and possibly accelerate out of the reach of the T-33 which might indicate a speed in excess of the T-33's 600 mph. 

I look forward to your further postings on this case Fran.